Once you have a web site up and running, you should continue to monitor the traffic to your web site to understand how well your information is being received by visitors.
Knowing this information will allow you to make subtle, or major changes to the content of your website to appropriately direct visitors to the information you want them to access.
There are 3, very easy to use Webmaster Services web sites that allow you to monitor your web site. We will look briefly at each of these and how to set them up.
Google Webmaster Tools
Website: Google Webmaster Tools (opens in new window)
Google was the first to offer a service to webmasters to help us understand how people were finding our websites and how search engines understood our content.
To get started you need to verify that you do in fact, own your web site. This makes sure no one else can go in and ruin your rankings later by pretending they own your website. Google offers 4 methods to verify ownership. Each method is very easy to use and Google explains the in detail.
Once you have Added your web site to the dashboard, Google offers several options to help manage several aspects of the site:
- Web Site Configuration
- How the Internet translates your web sites information
- Diagnostics and Helpful Tips
Select the verification method that suits you best and click “Verify” once you have completed the necessary steps.
The web site configuration options allow you to see how Google interprets your web site when it’s spiders crawl your web site looking at the information you have available. This is very handy to make sure you are not sending away robots that could help your search engine rankings.
You can also set the sitemap file that Google uses when it crawls your web site. This is helpful because this file lists all of the pages you want search engines to review and index for Internet users to find.
The other areas allow you to see what words people are typing into Google when your site is returned in the search results. This is great because it let’s you understand how people are finding your web site and you can continue to write more content with the key words to further strengthen your position.
Google also keeps making improvements on their tools and if you click on the Labs menu, you will see new services offered to help you understand additional aspects. Currently, Google latest push is on web site performance; a factor that will affect your web sites rankings if your site is too slow.
Since the introduction of Google’s Webmaster Tools a few years ago, Yahoo! and Microsoft have also started to offer Webmaster Tools to help web site owners monitor web site traffic.
Of the three services mentioned in this article, Google offers the most information to webmasters. They have also been doing this a lot longer than the other two providers so the quality of the information is very good.
Yahoo! Site Explorer
Website: Yahoo! Site Explorer (opens in new window)
As with all of these tools, you first need to Add your website to the dashboard to begin tracking the progress of your traffic. The verification process with Yahoo! is also very easy, although they do not offer as many verification methods as Google. You can either download a file and save it up to your website, or edit a meta tag in your home page and save the new file to your web site.
Once your web site tracking has started, Site Explorer offers a valuable snapshot of information. The information returned is more of an overview and the level of detail available is lacking compared to that of Google’s tool. Yahoo’s tool also integrates nicely with SearchMonkey, Yahoo’s Open search platform for developers. So if you’re more technically inclined, Yahoo! offers some very valuable tools to help webmasters improve search engine rankings with Yahoo!.
Bing Webmaster Tools
Website: Bing Webmaster Tools (opens in new window)
After you have added you web site and tracking has begun, Bing also provides an overview of information. However, the statistics are delivered more as a variety of graphical information instead of a list of issues and stats.
This is probably much more preferred if you would rather deal with graphs instead of a status report. But I found the information lacking in the detail I was after. Bing’s tool is the newest kid on the block, so perhaps time will allow this tool to push ahead of the others.
For now, I recommend Webmasters to use ALL THREE tools to monitor their website performance. It certainly doesn’t hurt your search engine rankings and offers your further intelligence into areas that you normally do not have visibility to with a standard web hosting statistics application.Tags: webmaster tools